It’s no surprise that ‘how to get over your ex’ must be one of the most popular Google searches out there! The results can sometimes be disheartening; everything can seem a little cookie cutter, full of platitudes and only really scratches the surface of what you’re feeling.
Every breakup is different and as humans, we’re all dynamic with so many complex emotions, coping mechanisms, and feelings. It’s impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to getting over your ex. The good news though, is that there are tools out there and a light at the end of the ex tunnel!
So, here are some recommendations of what getting over your ex really means, potent questions you might need to ask yourself, and a selection of practical tips that you can implement to aid the mending process.
Be compassionate with yourself.
What’s important to remember is that getting over your ex isn’t a linear process. It’s impossible to be able to give a specific date of when you’ll be “over” an ex and some days will be better than others, especially in the beginning. Even though it might feel like you make great progress one week and then suddenly find yourself back in heartbreak hell again the next, it doesn’t mean that you’ve gone backward. In the bigger picture, you will be making progress. So in those moments, treat yourself with the same kindness and empathy you would your best friend.
When we’re going through times of emotional stress, we need to be as compassionate and gentle as possible with ourselves because this accelerates the overall mending process.
Commit to letting go.
To be able to get over your ex, one major key is finding acceptance. Oftentimes we say that all we want to do is get over them but in reality, and usually subconsciously, letting go is too scary, which is what part of what holds us back.
Letting go of an ex means saying goodbye to that relationship, to that specific future we visualized. It means facing those fears head-on. “What if I end up alone?” “What if my ex was the one and I gave up too soon?” “What if I can’t get anyone better than my ex?” “What if they find someone else?”. All of these questions can permeate through our minds and stop us from fully letting go.
To be able to move forward we need to embrace the unknown and allow that space in.
So how can you make peace with the idea of letting go? Something we recommend is to write down the benefits of letting go. Instead of focusing on what you feel you might lose, focus on what you could gain by letting go of the relationship.
Your list might include things like being able to fully explore your passions and interests, to travel more freely, to spend your weekends as you please, to make more time for friends. It could be that you no longer have to worry about fighting the gut instinct that something just isn’t right in the relationship. Perhaps it’s that you now have space to truly reflect and create new healthy boundaries.
The more you do this and look at it from a different perspective, the more you can give yourself permission to fully let go.
Cut off contact.
You’ve probably heard this one before but we can’t leave it out because it’s a crucial part of being able to get over your ex. Creating that physical and emotional distance is one of the hardest parts of a breakup. But the more you stay in touch with an ex (excluding logistical reasons that need communication or if you have children), it’s like rubbing salt in the emotional wound. It’s harder to mend and the process is prolonged.
There are no easy ways to cut off contact with an ex but to give you some tips, we first recommend checking in daily on the Mend app, which guides you through the process day by day and allows you to keep track of how many days you’ve gone no contact with an ex.
Something you can also do is identify your triggers. Think about when you feel most vulnerable and likely to want to reach out. Perhaps it’s the first thing in the morning or before you go to bed, or maybe at the same time every day when you were used to talking to your ex.
Once you can pre-empt when you’re most likely to make that contact, you can substitute with other healthier, more fulfilling actions such as texting a friend, taking a walk, writing in your journal to express what you want to say, or turning your hand to something creative.
It isn’t easy but as each day goes by, the urge to text your ex will lessen.
Create new memories.
A huge part of getting over your ex is creating new neural pathways in the brain. When we’re going through heartbreak, we tend to focus on the past and continue to do things that remind us of our ex. That only serves to keep us stuck. So it’s all about re-wiring!
Let’s say you and your ex had a Sunday ritual of going for brunch at a spot you both loved. Well, now it’s time to create a different routine for your Sunday. Do a workout class, go somewhere else with a completely different vibe for brunch with your friends, take an online class, do something creative that you love at home. It might not feel immediately better but it will start to imprint a new memory in your brain that you associate with you and this new chapter in your life.
You can take this approach with many things--rearrange your space and clear out any of your ex’s belongings (highly recommend you do this!), switch up your morning and evening routines, or take a different route to work. The idea is to make it as mending, fun, explorative, and nourishing as possible for yourself.
This part is so powerful and can help immensely.
Do a digital detox.
When we’re going through a breakup and trying to get over our ex, it’s all too easy to start becoming reliant on social media. Either to try and glean any details on what your ex is up to, or as a way to numb out and distract ourselves.
Social media, and the online world, in general, can be incredible if we curate it in the best way possible, but it can also be detrimental when we’re in a vulnerable spot. We’re more prone to comparing ourselves to others and it can send us into freefall if we see our ex is out there portraying himself or herself having an amazing time without us.
Social media isn’t a true version of reality though and while you might know that on an intellectual level, you’ll likely find some time off it can help you connect to the real world. Spending time with loved ones, doing something creative, getting out in nature, and just generally being out in the fresh air is extremely healing and the best tonic for the soul.
Find a way to express your emotions.
The more we allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling and express them, the easier it is to transition through the breakup. Some people like to do this through journaling or writing it down. Even if it’s just five minutes a day, the act of writing everything down can feel like all the stagnant emotional energy has found a release. It can help you say what’s on your heart without your ex being involved and it can also help you make sense of your feelings to be able to work through them.
Other things you can do are reaching out to a friend, speaking to a therapist or coach, going somewhere quiet and screaming out loud (so good!), singing, practicing yoga, or using creativity as a way to let out your feelings.
Expression is also amazing for stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps you to relax, breathe, and feel healthier and more at peace.
Know that you don't need your ex to get closure.
What often holds us back from getting over an ex is feeling like we need closure. This is usually the reason for keeping the communication going and mostly ends with more questions left unanswered. When we’re in hot pursuit of closure, we very rarely get the answers we want and it keeps us in a perpetual cycle of communication and heartbreak.
What you need to know is that the relationship history and the breakup happening has already given you the closure you need. In your gut, you likely have all the answers to your questions. Even if you don’t have answers, that’s ok too. You can still make the decision to let go and move forward.
It can be incredibly hard to accept but that realization can also be beautifully empowering. While it might not seem fair, it might mean being open to forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to moving forward because it’s setting you free to live your life in the way that you truly deserve. It’s not letting your ex off the hook, it’s serving you. It might also mean forgiving yourself.
This part can be the biggest piece of the journey because it means you can finally close the chapter and truly start to get over your ex. You might want to carry out a ritual to mark letting go, gaining the closure you need and moving on to your next chapter. It could be writing a letter to your ex saying everything that you want to say and then (safely!) burning the letter or it could be a huge decluttering and revamp of your space. It can be anything you want!
Again, it doesn’t immediately take away the pain but it can help you breathe the huge sigh of emotional relief that you’ve needed.
We hope these tips help you. Just remember, this isn’t about getting it perfect. Take it day by day and every day aim to add more of what you love into your life. That could be time with friends and family, doing activities you enjoy, staying healthy, setting personal goals, or taking trips. The point is to prioritize yourself while working through getting over an ex.
If you’re having trouble getting through this breakup, you don’t have to do it alone. Let Mend help you get started on making your heart whole again.